Those Spanish Eyes

Al-MartinoHearing Al Martino sing “Spanish Eyes” still can make me cry. I hear his smooth voice, those touching lyrics, and all I can think about is my mother. Al Martino was Mom’s favorite singer and his “Spanish Eyes” was one of her favorite songs.

I confess, I didn’t always appreciate this Italian crooner from Philadelphia. When I was a little kid I’d throw a fit when Mom played her Al Martino records on our family’s stereo in the living room. I’m not sure why I had an early aversion to Al. Luckily by the time I was 8 years old, my musical taste had matured and I began to appreciate his music. I had started taking piano lessons about that time and had discovered that I could listen to a song and then play a reasonable facsimile of it on the piano. “Spanish Eyes” was one of the first songs I learned to play this way — “by heart.” And Mom liked it when I would play “Spanish Eyes” for her.

Mom had nine Al Martino albums on vinyl, circa 1963 to 1975, plus a CD of his later work that I had given her in 2003. After she died in 2004, I claimed her Al Martino collection. From time to time I’ll listen to “Spanish Eyes” or “Love Is Blue” or one of the other albums. Sometimes my eyes well with tears and sometimes they don’t, but in any case Al Martino transports me to a sacred place of memories with my mother.

Laura Sternweis

P.S. Al Martino died in 2009. I imagine Mom has front row seats at his heavenly concerts.


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